Title: The Kitchen Boy
Author: August Li
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Yoli, High Commander Koehen
Sub-Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Kitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.
Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?
First Edition published by Silver Publishing, 2013.
The Kitchen Boy by August Li is at times heart wrenching as it is a beautifully told love story. One thing I’ve learned after reading Mr. Li’s work is that you should always prepare for the unexpected and to allot myself plenty of time to read. Why? Because once I start reading one of his books, I quickly get caught up within his characters’ lives and I’ll have to continue to read it until it is finished.
August Li is a master at writing compelling, unique characters. In this instance we have Yoli who has been a kitchen boy since he was a young boy. Yoli is often physically abused by others and as much as they try to beat him until he loses his spirit, Yoli still lives within his own mind and has dreams that he holds firmly holds onto. When he is asked to help his master the High Commander Koehen from a crippling migraine, (I think he might have epilepsy too…maybe) it is Yoli’s healing touch and lovely voice that brings Koehen relief. As Yoli is continued to be called to aid Koehen, he must keep the Commander’s ailment a secret. Why? Because any form of sickness or disability is considered a weakness and it is a very good possibility the Commander would be put to death or thrown out of power.
Yoli is glad to keep Koehen’s secret. For some time, his feelings have grown for the High Commander and he feels priviledged to do anything within his power to help out and be in Koehen’s company, whether it is for healing purposes or not.
When Koehen begins to show interest in Yoli, he is surprised and flattered by Koehen’s attention. As their relationship grows, Yoli can’t help but wish that one day he will be worthy of his High Commander’s love.
Koehen is a noble, likeable man who has had to hide his affliction from others. Other than his best friend and his cousin, it is Yoli who he begins to long for and trust with his secret, his life and his heart. Though Yoli is a kitchen servant, Koehen sees the intelligence and strength about the younger man that Koehen can’t help but want to nourish. But their love is a forbidden one and when Yoli is faced with the uncertainty of his life, his word, his loyalty and his love for Koehen, both men must make some hard choices and sacrifices if they want a future together.
I really liked this book a lot. It’s easy to like young Yoli and understand the plight he goes through as the story progresses. Also, Mr Li writes with an almost descriptive, lyrical pose that I find highly enjoyable and almost addictive to read. Mr Li’s storytelling ability can easy sweep his readers into the creative world he creates. It’s so easy to get caught up into the lives of his characters and the story they have to tell.
But I should warn you that Yoli’s tale is not an easy one. He goes through much abuse and is even tortured in this novel. So be warned that some of the things he lives through is not that easy to read. Though at times my heart wept for him, I also learned to admire his sheer determination to persevere and survive.
The Kitchen Boy by August Li is a must read for anyone who loves high fantasy books. Between the well-written characters and the suspenseful story-line, it is a story not to be missed.
Reviewed By: Gabbi
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